For those who would like your child to have an experience that is even more relevant to selecting a military career direction, another organization that may be of interest is the U.S. Civil Air Patrol. 


The Civil Air Patrol, or CAP as it is called by members of the organization, is the official volunteer civilian Auxiliary of the United States Air Force. [Please don't confuse this CAP program with the one we are familiar with as part of HSLDA or the National Center for Home Education. They are not the same thing.] 


Civil Air Patrol has a stated national purpose as chartered by the United States Congress to provide emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs to and through its members. It's purpose is benevolent, meaning that it does not take up arms in times of war, nor do they encourage the use of military force within the organization. 


However, for the student who wishes to consider a military career, it is fantastic opportunity to learn and experience the rigors of military conditions.


Civil Air Patrol is open to both boys and girls. CAP also places particular emphasis on spiritual and moral leadership. The student member can join at the age of 12 (or when in sixth grade, if only eleven), and remain active in the organization until attaining the age of 21.  (The cadet may elect to become a senior member upon reaching 18 if so desired.)  The cadet may work up through 16 ranks from Cadet Basic Airman through Cadet Colonel over the course of the program. 


Each promotion is based upon testing in knowledge, character evaluation and physical fitness. Age is not a consideration for promotion, so a young child who has incentive can move up in the ranks just as quickly as an older one. Upon reaching the mid-point in the process of promotions, the cadet becomes eligible for academic scholarships that can be quite substantial. 


Cadets can qualify to take up to 11 flight orientations in certified CAP aircraft during their CAP membership. Nationally, Civil Air Patrol owns over 535 light aircraft that are actively flown over 130,000 hours each year. Both of our youngest boys, Wesley, who was 11 when he had his first orientation flight, and Josiah, who was 13, were excited about this experience alone.  They can learn to fly single engine airplanes, gliders and even hot air balloons. 


Quoting from a CAP brochure, "The cadets have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities including encampments on military bases, orientation flights, and a variety of national and international activities. Through its National Scholarship Program, CAP provides scholarships to cadets to further their studies in such areas as engineering, science, aircraft mechanics and aerospace medicine. Scholarships leading to solo flight training are also provided."


When CAP cadets enlist in the Air Force, they now enter as an E-3 (Airman First Class) instead of as an airman basic. The brochure continues, "CAP cadets are also well represented at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Usually eight to 10 percent of the academy class is composed of former CAP cadets." How many young people get this kind of "leg up" opportunity in their career path?